Friday, October 29, 2010


This week has been full of productivity. I expect nothing less out of the weekend.

1. Took (and passed!...yes, that is significant!) my biochemistry class. It marked the end of a love/hate relationship.

2. Read the book Boy Meets Girl this week. I rarely finish books, so this too, is significant. Jess, a new friend from my Bible study recommended it to all of us last week. I learned a lot. Also, I have to admit that I cheated, I didn't technically read it, I listened to it after I downloaded it from Josh Harris, the author, did. 

3. I bought a power drill and went to the shooting range and shot a recurve bow. All in one day. Rifle, pistol, and CPL classes are in my future.  Don't worry, when I got back I got in touch with my feminine side and lit a bunch of candles and made this for dinner with Ingrid Michaelson's new song Parachute playing thanks to Katie's wonderful musical influence in my life. It's delicious...kinda blew my expectations out of the water, but, they were pretty low to begin with and I was also very hungry!

Modified from "Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook"
Orzo with Garlic Vegetables
1 T Olive oil
3 garlic cloves
2 C sliced baby carrots
2 C sliced zucchini
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chooped
1 t. chicken bouillon granules, dissolved in 3/4 cup boiling water
2 1/2 C cooked orzo
pepper to taste
1. In a large skillet over low heat, heat the oil. Saute the garlic until deep brown, 4-5 mins; keep the heat low so they don't burn. 
2. Increase the heat to high; add the carrots. Stir-fry, adding the zucchini, bell peppers and dissolved bouillon, until the veggies are tender-crisp, about 3 minutes.
3. Add the orzo and pepper, toss to combine. Serve immediately and ENJOY!

4. Watched the movie We Were Soldiers.
Watch This! and you'll want to see it too.

5. Fell in love with this song. This music video (Lead Me To The Cross.) has scenes from the movie The Passion, if your stomach (and your heart...) can handle it, it speaks volumes. 

6. I went to EVERY class this week, opting out of putting it off until later and staying in bed. I'm so glad now that it's Friday and I'm not behind!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friendship Clinic

This morning I had the opportunity to get my feet wet in an awesome program. It's called the Friendship Clinic. I'm in a group at school called Community Integrated Medicine that is involved in promoting health in the community through health fairs, flu shot clinics, the Friendship Clinic (FC), etc... FC is awesome for two reasons. First of all, it provides medical care at no cost to the patients (save prescription costs). And, second of all, it provides what I think is the best experience I'll have to learn how to be a doctor at this point in my overall medical education.

But, aside from the benefits it provides in patient interactions and medical knowledge, the biggest benefit is the reality check it provided for me this morning. I called home today after leaving the clinic and stated that my childhood dream of having a summer home on Lake Charlevoix was off the table. There was no way I could justify it. The money could be better used somewhere else, more specifically helping someone else. Besides, I like camping. Even little things, I mean, I could totally live off Ramen noodles, right? Ok, so that's a little dramatic and a road headed straight for hypertension, (can you say sodium overload?) but I think you see where I'm coming from...

My Dad responded, "Amy, not even Jesus solved the world from poverty." Good point, Dad. But he also commanded us, "Freely you have received, freely give." So, where's the line? And so, while my comments were somewhat emotionally charged, I called home because I knew that he'd let me vent and then proceed to rationalize my overly ambitious thoughts. I'm so thankful for what he said to me. It was Godly advice. In a nutshell, he told me, God will show you where to put your resources, where to spend your time, and how to use the gifts he will lavish upon you if you follow his will. I guess I may have jumped the gun a bit. It'll be years, decades!, before I have to decide where to buy a house. One day at a time.

We also talked about how the government, while well intentioned to provide healthcare for each and every person, is way off track. It is not the government's responsibility to provide care for every single person. It is ours. Especially those who are fortunate enough to have received an education in providing a service to help people--as a medical professional or mechanic or you fill in the blank. We have the responsibility to provide what the government was never intended to, and quite frankly, can't provide. A system of checks and balances that extends beyond the walls of congress and relies on the trust built between people that can actually hold each other accountable. Because the sex offender who was put in prison for 12 years, has been unemployed for the last 7, and was the patient I saw in the clinic this morning needs a system that will hold him accountable, one that he trusts, and one that will support him so long as he is honestly attempting to support himself. And the federal government, as hard as it may try, will never be able to do that.

The only thing that can change a life is a love that extends further than what we are capable of giving as mere men and women. One of the coordinators at the clinic even mentioned that the biggest way you can treat a patient is by validating them, make them feel worthy to be here. We all need a love that is patient and kind. One that does not envy or boast, is not proud or rude or self seeking. One that keeps no record of wrongs. A love that protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. A love that never fails. My dad also reminded me that it's okay to feel heartache for the men and women I saw today. That that feeling is there for a reason. Thanks, Dad. While short, sweet, and to the point, our conversation today has had a bigger impact on me that I was expecting. I just pray that that feeling doesn't go away, but continues to motivate me. Especially as I go to prepare for my biochemistry final...ugh.

This post is dedicated to: my Dad

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Poetry Anthology

Do you remember all of those pointless projects you did in grade school? Crayons, markers, constructions paper, poster board, shoe boxes, binders, etc...they all remind me of grade school projects. Well, my eighth grade English teacher would be proud. Mrs. Moyski (I had to try really hard to remember her name!) would be proud. Because, my poetry anthology I had to do is still near and dear to my heart.

I came across it this summer as I was packing up my room at home in Saline. As I flipped through the pages, I was caught off guard by how many of the poems that spoke to me 9 years ago were just as meaningful today. For some reason, I can also remember procrastinating and working on this assignment way past my bedtime...some things never change.

The assignment went something like this. Choose a poem, write a paragraph about why you chose it, and then add a picture to supplement it. While most of what I wrote then applies now, I thought it'd be sort of cool to add to the paragraphs, 9 years later, a new personal interpretation of the poem. So here it goes...I'll share this one with you.

Title: The Mission

Here's what I wrote then:
Red String Tied Around Index FingerThis is most likely one of my favorite poems. I like the message it sends, you're not too young, small, or weak to make a difference in the world. I know that there are many times where I've just sat back and let everyone else do the job, making excuses like, "...but I don't know how." This peom is like a small red string attached to my finger reminding me to take advantage of any situation where I may be able to help. My favorite few lines in the poem are, "You can chant in happy measure, as they slowly pass along; though they may forget the singer, they will not forget the song." It tells me that I don't need to reveive credit for what I do and that I can help out anywhere. However, it won't be easy, because opportunities don't just come to you, you have to go looking for them.
And the poem:
If you cannot in the ocean
Sail among the swiftest fleet,
Rocking on the highest billows,
Laughing at the storms you meet,
You can stand among the sailors,
Anchored yet within the bay;
You can lend a hand to help them,
As they launch their boats away.

If you are too weak to journey
Up the mountain, steep and high,
You can stand within the valley,
While the multitude go by.
You can chant a happy measure,
As they slowly pass along;
Though they may forget the singer,
They will not forget the song.

If you have not gold and silver
Ever ready to command,
If you cannot toward the needy
Reach an ever-open hand,
You can visit the afflicted
O'er the erring you can weep;
You can be a true disciple,
Sitting at the Savior's feet.

If you cannot in the conflict
Prove yourself a soldier true,
If where the fire and smoke are thickest
There's no work for you to do,
When the battle field is silent,
You can go with a careful tread;
You can bear way the wounded,
You can cover up the dead.

Do not then stand idly waiting
For some greater work to do;
Fortune is a lazy goddess,
She will never come to you.
Go and toil in any vineyard,
Do not fear to do or dare;
If you want a field of labor,
You can find it anywhere.
-Ellen M. Huntington Gates

And now, here's what I have to say...
I love the way this peom reads aloud. The most powerful lines are the final two. I've heard life after college graduation described as a second puberty. Graduates are often filled with confusion, loneliness, inadequacy, and don't really know what to make of the new situations in which they find themselves. If only you could wrap this poem up and give it to each young adult searching for meaning and purpose. There is no need to compare yourself to other people. In fact, I think it limits one's ability to see their own uniqueness. There is no need for you to wait for a door to open--fortune is a lazy goddess--rather, I think there are opportunities waiting to be seized. So, why do I love this poem? It instills the confidence that is lacking in so many people. You can do it. You can be yourself. You can, you can, you can. God designed you as you, and nobody else is youer than you! (Thank you, Dr. Seuss!) And, that is truth..."The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." 1 Corinthians 12:21-26

Monday, October 18, 2010

13.1 Miles

You may ask, and rightfully so, where is the fun in running 13.1 miles in Detroit? When I signed up to run the Detroit Half Marathon, I was looking for some motivation to get active again after taking a hefty break from physical exertion after 10 years of competitive running and Commissioned Officer Training. But, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'll tell you why.
Erin and I before the race. It's like COT all over again...5AM wake up.
First of all, the people. There are so many of them! Almost 20,000 people competed and there were supporters along the road almost every step of the way. In the picture below you can see me and Erin amidst the huge crowd before the race. Katie drove down to capture the Kodak moments and after the race I was lucky enough to see some Hillsdale cross country ladies who'd driven in for the occasion as well. Erin Cvengros ran the marathon, exceptionally well, if I may add...she ran in the 3:15 range...big time qualified for Boston...and I'm proud of her, can you tell? So, the people, sorta like Hillsdale (I couldn't resist), made it worth it. 
In the middle of the picture, I'm in green with my back turned and Erin's in white.
Next, you run in two countries. This may not sound exciting, but it was awesome! You cross the Ambassador Bridge from Detroit to Windsor and after running along the water in Windsor, re-enter the US through the tunnel under the river. Crossing the riving knocks two miles out of the way and really does add to the excitement of the whole experience.

I may or may not have stopped to take pictures along the way...I felt super cool and way hard core doing it.
Not. But now, I'm glad I have the pictures!
Like I said, you run along the river in Windsor, at about 7:30AM and get to watch the sun rise. Check out the view...
Something I wasn't expecting that morning was to feel as good as I did. Sure, the slight incline of an overpass, like the one pictured below, did my quads in, but overall, it went really, really well. The weather was great, I can't imagine doing a long run like that in the heat. I was talking to Erin Cvengros afterwards and I realized that because of my past running experience, I'd been tricked into thinking you had to run a significant amount of mileage, quality mileage, to do something like this. But, all Erin Caverly and I did in preparation were two longer runs, around 8 and 10 miles, and put in about 4 half hour to hour runs a week. Cven also pointed out that it's nice to have the strength that years and years of running supply, which I think also helped. If anything, mentally it definitely helps. Distance runners have a distorted sense of reality, for example, 13 miles doesn't really sound all that long. Which brings me to my next point...

...and I hesitate to admit this, but just to be fair, running a marathon sometime in the future did cross my mind. It would require more training, but after the half and all of the excitement that a big road race adds to running, I think it might be something I'd like to add to my bucket list.
And Erin and I had a kick! 

I also have to make a comment about the tin foil looking blankets. Before yesterday, I doubted them. How could something like that actually keep you warm? But, I stand corrected. They are awesome.

And last, but certainly not least, it wouldn't have been a race without him. Mr. Pencilman. He's everywhere.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


You have made known to me the paths of life;
You will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 16:11

God is the ultimate source of joy. So I would like to thank God for 3 things: Beauty, Baking, and Family. Let me show you why...

Aesthetics: the study of beauty. Unfortunately, pictures don't capture the essence of an environment, but this is the best I can do for you via the internet. Last night, I lit a bunch of candles, listened to the warmth of Lorie Line play the piano--which is slightly sentimental in that my Mom often played her CD's growing up, it just reminds me of home (Listen to a sample here), and drank a seasonal pumpkin spice latte. The sounds, the smells, the dim light, I'm telling you, immerse yourself in beauty and you automatically feel closer to God. And that equals an automatic joy. It's also one of my favorite ways to study; it makes the experience slightly more enjoyable. The Puritan Prayer book, The Valley of Vision, for it's beautiful language, and my newly purchased tea cups would also fall into this category of beautiful joy.

These are my new tea cups. Tea is another simple pleasure of mine.
Drinking it out of a tiny tea cup is a bonus.

A well stocked kitchen. A while ago, I had purchased the ingredients for pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. And last week, I made them. It wasn't that I was in a bad mood, but I just needed something to get me going again. I'd been waiting for an opportune time and this was it. I would also highly recommend the little cookie ice cream looking scooper. Just one of those things I feel like no kitchen should be without. It makes life easier and that's something to be joyful about!

Grandma and Gramps + grand & great-grandchildren
My family. Sunday we celebrated Grandma's 76th birthday. So, I did it again. Monday morning I had a biochemistry exam and where was I? Home. Instead of studying from dawn til dusk, I studied for a grand total of 2 hours on Sunday. And, I wouldn't change that, even after being disappointed with my score. Ryan drove to Lansing from Grand Rapids and then we drove the rest of the way home together. To be honest, driving there and back with him would've made the trip worth it in itself. I think the phrase, "absence makes the heart grow fonder" is especially true when it comes to siblings. Seeing so many Lukes in one place again wasn't too bad either! I could've been stressing about the exam, but instead I was full of joy. See what I mean? It was Time Well Wasted--and that's something to be joyful about.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Happy Friday!

So, it's Friday. I thought I'd recap the week by sharing little of what I've learned this week.

1 - Don't make a decision while going up hill. A decision to quit that is. This thought originally occurred to me while running on Tuesday evening. I was headed up a hill, bet you wouldn't have guessed that!, and the thought of not running the Detroit half marathon sounded magical. Surely I could think of some sort of excuse. But, as I reached the top and continued another mile or so I thought, "Man, I'm so glad I kept going!" Moral of the story: Don't make a decision to quit while going up a hill. (As you can probably imagine, this has more significant applications as well...medical school? perhaps...) Which reminds of Dr. Seuss...

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!
(Dr. Seuss's Oh, the Places You'll Go)

2 - Calling recorded lectures of biochemistry, evidence based medicine, or physiology "Episodes" makes them slightly more enjoyable. Almost like I'm watching a real TV show. Especially if I grab a snack...

3 - Politics are everywhere (I already knew that...). But, they are much more prevalent in healthcare, particularly in Michigan, than I'd imagined. (That, I should have known...) It's probably best I don't share my opinions on here, but give me a call. We'll talk. For a long time. Maybe I'll try to tackle the whole situation in a future post...anyways, I've learned I'm even more thankful for the Air Force than I thought.

4 - Salad dressing on your leafy greens help promote all of their leafy goodness (specifically by helping your body absorb all those fat soluble vitamins in the salad--like vitamin A, E, and K) If you want to really help yourself out, go eat your leafy green salad, with salad dressing, outside (sunlight triggers vitamin D synthesis).

5 - Impatience is a sin. The sermon series at church right now is titled, "Not That Bad." It centers around sin that we claim, or sometimes don't even recognize, as being that bad. If sin is the failure to reflect the image of God in nature, attitude, or action, then being impatient, something God certainly is not, is a sin. When we're impatient we are doing one of two things: 1. tellling God our timing is better than his or 2. that we are more important than someone else. His challenge? Seek out the longest line at the grocery store and wait in it. With 2 items. Hold the door, every time, for every last person. And, drive in the slow lane...happily...without tailgating. The sermon the previous week was on anxiety and worry--also a sin. I'd have to say that those are probably the two most common complaints of all med students...feeling anxious or worried and impatient. Too bad these sermons aren't a graduation requirement!

7 - MSU and UofM play each other this weekend. Growing up near Ann Arbor, I knew it was a big deal, but  experiencing the intensity and emotion first hand, I am seeing the reality of the rivalry. It's been going on ALL week. My biochem professor called on people to answer questions if they were wearing yellow--because apparently you wear your respective school colors ALL week. Being in a graduate program where there are a lot of UofM and State undergrads in one room makes me a little uncomfortable sometimes. But, whatever, I'll give into the peer pressure.GO GREEN! (you respond, "GO WHITE!")

and lastly, but certainly not least! 6 - I love my biochemistry book. I can hear it calling as I type...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Modern Medicine

Modern Medicine. Sometimes I question whether it's worth it. Obviously I believe it's beneficial considering my current career path, but I think it's an interesting thought when you think about the quality of life some people have as a result of it. Ya know? Don't get me wrong, it's great and more people benefit than suffer, but sometimes ignorance is bliss. That's all I'm saying. Regardless, more often, thankfully, I just sit back in awe of the great lengths medicine has come. Two awe inspiring moments follow. Please, enjoy.

1. Robotic Prostate Surgery -- Click the title. It's a short movie, and so wild. A surgeon removes a prostate without putting gloves on his hands. Worried about your job going overseas? Now, so are urologists. A surgeon in Boston could perform this surgery hundreds of miles away. Could it be a breakthrough in providing medical care in areas where there is limited access to medical care? Maybe? 

2. Confocal microscopy -- Someday my office will be decorated with confocal microscopy images, aren't they gorgeous? See the descriptions beside the picture if you've ever taken any physiology course to make the pictures come cool! I realize not all of you will share my enthusiasm, but, it's so great to see things you talk about everyday really do exist! I don't know, maybe it'd be like a stock broker actually seeing money? 
Wanna see more? Click Here!
This is the Organ of Corti aka your ear. The green cells are hair cells and the nuclei of the hair cells are stained blue. The red spirally mess at the lower left are neurons which are synapsing on the inner hair cells and the spiky projections coming out of the green hairs cells are stereocilia. When sound waves enter the ear they compress the stereocilia, causing them to bend, which in turn depolarizes the hair cells and sends a message to your brain saying, "I heard something!" 
Your hippocampus. Orange =glia. Blue = nuclei. Green = neurofilaments.
 It keeps track of emotional responses and stuff like that. :)
Ok, this is cool. Cell replication in action. Literally, undergoing anaphase, the chromosomes which have replicated in one cell are now being divided to make two cells with the same set of chromosomes.
Green = the mitotic spindle. Red = chromosomes.
(Mallory, if you're reading this, I mentioned anaphase and cell replication just for you, cool, huh?) 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Guilty Pleasure...

It's Tuesday night at 8pm. What are you doing? Watching Melissa and Joey? That's what I am doing. Season 1 started a couple months ago and if I miss the episode, I wait ever so patiently...well, not patiently at all, for them to put the new episode up online. They wait an entire week to post it! I can't get enough of it. The show is hilarious, if you're into this sort of stuff. So, if you haven't seen it, appreciate the humor of Melissa Joan Hart (or someone like Amanda Bynes), and really just want to turn your brain off for a solid 30 mintues, I'd highly recommend it! I think it's hilarious. If you really like the show, I also recommend the movie, My Fake Fiance. Melissa and Joey are just a great combo.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday Morning Tests

So far, I've been pretty good at scheduling busy weekends right before a Monday exam. It seems like the best weekends, where there are opportunities you just can't really pass up, fall at just the right time every time. This week in Hillsdale was Fair Week. And who was performing? Josh Turner! My mom, Aunt Michelle, Nana, and I all went to experience it in honor of Nana's birthday this month. He is Nana's favorite. So, much fun! The highlight had to have been Nana cheering and yelling at "Josh"...definitely. The only bummer of the night was getting in line at the Red Barn for what has been explained to me as the Fair's best elephant ears, only to be told after waiting for 10 minutes that they were sold out. Afterwards we went to this awesome little Bed and Breakfast (if anyone is looking for a nice place near Hillsdale check it out! Rooms at Grayfield.) On a side note: if I weren't in med school, I think running a B&B would be awesome! Then we hit up the Flavor Fruit Farm for some cider and doughnuts along with the rest of Hillsdale county Sunday morning.
Picture not from this weekend, but that's Nana, and it was her birthday celebration, thus the picture...
I decided to make this weekend extra long and went down on Friday evening--the concert was on Saturday night. Man, I love that place. It's crazy how you run into people there. For example, I went to the Blue and White swim meet Saturday morning and saw Lea with her dad Eddy (Lea = my third cousin and Ed = my dad's second cousin). We talked about how they had just seen Grandma and Grandpa Luke and Uncle Jeff and Aunt Karen at a family get together the weekend before--we just talked like we'd known each other forever. A year ago I didn't even know Lea and her family were family, then she came to Hillsdale to play basketball and I've met a bunch of family I never knew I had and it's like we've known each other forever. So cool! More typical Hillsdale moments included a trip to the Arb and Oakley's, staying in the Budd's luxurious guest room overlooking Baw Beese, practicing OMM (thank you, Ben, for having a bad back!), watching some Charger football, studying in Lane 234 (the classroom I sat in on for my visit and also had my first real Hillsdale lecture in--English with Dr. Cuneo), and sweet potato fries at the Hunt Club. Anyways, a solid weekend all around. And the good news, homecoming is only a month away!